For my Black History at USD Project, I attended the Roy L. Brooks distinguished lecture series. The program’s main speakers were of course Roy L. Brooks and Derrick R. Brooms. For context, Roy L. Brooks is a professor of Law here at the University of San Diego and an author who has over 20 books and is a receiver of 5 book awards. This event was clearly in his honor and it was an honor to be in his attendance. Derrick R. Brooms, who was also a speaker, is also a professor of Phycology here at the University of San Diego. He is also the author of the SUNY Press book Being Black, Being Male on Campus: Understanding and Confronting Black Male Collegiate Experiences. The program of “The Roy. L Brooks Distinguished Lecture Series”, shows how the importance of the “image” of African-American males affects their educational values alongside their navigation in life.
The main goal of this gathering was to respond to the social unrest of 2020, as seen by appeals from students, alumni, employees, and teachers to aggressively oppose anti-Black attitudes. For Roy L. In Brooks ‘ part of his speech, he was very grateful for this chance and explained how he would’ve never thought such a big accomplishment like this would ever happen to him. He talked about his journey of writing and much about his family life, including his late wife. Overall he was very grateful for the whole thing, in which he then gave the mic to Derrick R. Broom. When it came to Derrick R Broom’s part to speak, his main concepts consisted of Black men, educational desires, and navigation. The main points in his speech consisted of talking about his books, which were overall the experience of being a black male in the educational system, and some of the interviews he conducted with students.
In a way, I was moved by how he spoke about this issue and I find it perfect to speak about this issue considering the main point of the event is to honor a Black educated Man. What stood out to me was his story in general. He explained how he used to play sports in college, but he wasn’t an “athlete”. For him, it wasn’t something that he was going to use to be successful. In today’s society, it is very common for black men to be in college only due to sports. He expressed how he put himself through college and how his mother couldn’t afford to buy his course material such as books and such, and because of that, he was very behind in class. In the eyes of the professors and coaches to him, he just looked like a dumb black male athlete. When in reality he was extremely smart but just didn’t have the right materials and resources to succeed. He explained how it was the janitors, the lunch ladies…etc, who always checked up on him and never the actual teachers or counselors. In a way, it reminded me of our reading from class, “A Talk to Teachers”.
In A Talk With Teachers by James Baldwin, he states, “…that any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American educational system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic. On the one hand, he is born in the shadow of the stars and stripes and he is assured it represents a nation that has never lost a war. He pledges allegiance to that flag which guarantees “liberty and justice for all.” He is part of a country in which anyone can become president, and so forth. But on the other hand he is also assured by his country and his countrymen that he has never contributed anything to civilization – that his past is nothing more than a record of humiliations gladly endured. He is assumed by the republic that he, his father, his mother, and his ancestors were happy, shiftless, watermelon-eating darkies who loved Mr. Charlie and Miss Ann, that the value he has as a black man is proven by one thing only – his devotion to white people. If you think I am exaggerating, examine the myths which proliferate in this country about Negroes.”
The overall reading criticizes the education system in the mid-1900s by directly addressing the shortcomings in the system to teachers. He contends that race should not be an impediment to equality or the level of education a child receives. But once again we are talking about the hypocrisy here in America. For example, Derrick R. Brooms also spoke out about an incident that happened with one of the students he was interviewing. The student claims that the bus driver he encountered said a lot of racial remarks to him, in which he spoke out of character. The bus driver said he looked like he was hanging with the “dudes at the corner”, suggesting he hangs out with drug dealers. When the boy heard that he decided he should correct him by saying he was attending college next year. When the bus driver heard that he said “College?!”, and laughed in his face. In America, it is always confusing how a black man should act. America drags them for selling drugs and not graduating, but also laughs in their face when they want to attend college other than playing a sport. Same within the education system, where we find micro-aggressive racism from professors. Derrick mentioned little things such as having a professor question a black student about writing his own paper because it sounds “too good”, or confusing a black student’s name with another black student’s simply because they “look-alike” when in reality there are only two black students in that class.
In continuation, we have gone over the many challenges African Americans have gone through in the education system itself during class, but it also raises the question of why African American students go through all of this when a good amount of the time the educational system expects/wants us to fail. To start my point I would love to bring up some history. In the Arkansas newspaper, it reads the title, “The University of Virginia Prepares to Admit First Negro in History” (Arkansas State Press, 29 Sept. 1950, p. 2.). Gregory Swanson was the first African American male to go to the University of Virginia. Though many might not know him, being the first “African American” person to do anything is overall a huge accomplishment in itself. In the paper, it reads, “The court’s ruling represents another victory for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in its barrage of attacks against segregated higher education throughout the South…”. Thinking back on Derrick’s speech and his interviews with the students he mentioned the why. A lot of African American students, mainly males, want to go to college to prove a point. Not because it’s better for their life, or because they love school, they do it to prove to anyone who said they wouldn’t be anything…wrong. It’s gotten to a point where the things they do is just to either prove something to themselves or others. Personally, it’s my reason too. In a world forced against them, a system that doesn’t believe in them, African American students go to school, to go against any stereotype against them. Because at the end of the day, because one black person does something, it doesn’t define the black community as a whole. To each their own and because of this they hold the pressure of trying to prove to themselves that as an American, they belong there as much as any student and that they are not a stereotype.
In conclusion, the education of black males is a critical issue that needs and was addressed in this presentation. As a black woman myself I have a higher chance of graduating alongside my peers than my brother has then graduating alongside his. It’s important that teachers address the issues of inequality in the school system and then just sit there and act clueless about its occurrence. By addressing the many challenges African-American male students face in the educational system, it is very possible that the system can create a generation of students who stand a chance.
Baldwin, James, “A Talk to Teachers” (1963). ESED 5234 – Master List. 44. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/esed5234-master/44
“University of Virginia Prepares to Admit First Negro in History.” Arkansas State Press, 29 Sept. 1950, p. 2. Black Life in America, infoweb-newsbank-com.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/apps/news/document-view?p=AAHX&docref=image/v2%3A12F3CB549363AB38%40AAHX-13389CA019137AB8%402433554-13384CA3091AC3C8%401-137DEC5D580F5559%40University%2Bof%2BVirginia%2BPrepares%2BTo%2BAdmit%2BFirst%2BNegro%2BIn%2BHistory. Accessed 12 May 2023.
In class source: “A Talk to Teachers” By James Baldwin